USS Dewert (FFG 45) and USS John L Hall
(FFG 32) sailors volunteered to perform some maintenance work,
painting and cleaning at a women and children’s shelter
in Montevideo during a port visit conducted as part of UNITAS
45-04 Atlantic Phase.
A sailor from the USS John L. Hall
(FFG-32) helps paint a room at the "Center for the Promotion
of Human Dignity" (CeProDiH), a shelter for battered
The project involved painting the center’s
nursery, kitchen and a large cafeteria and play area for
the younger children. With more volunteer than rollers,
the sailors found other ways to help by disassembling, cleaning
and moving a large stove, removing old clutter from the
attic and fixing electrical wires.
“The guys and gals have done a terrific
job,” said Adriana Abraham, the shelter’s director.
“They work with a lot of enthusiasm, dedication and
will to help. I have asked them where they are from, and
they come from different places all over the United States,
but they all share the same desire to help out.”
The shelter, named Center for the Promotion
of Human Dignity, has undertaken the mission of providing
food and boarding for homeless and abused women. It also
provides training and job skills to help these women become
self-sufficient. There are currently 19 women and 43 children
living at the shelter.
John L. Hall and Dewert sailors jumped at
the opportunity to help this worthy cause. “I had
50 volunteers, and I had to scale it down quite a bit because
there were too many people for the job,” said Lt.
j.g. Zachary Garcia, USS John L. Hall Damage Control Assistant
and community relations coordinator. “I believe sailors
volunteer because they don’t want to do the stereotypical
thing at the places they visit. They want to help out.”
Rear Adm. Vinson E.
Smith, Commander U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command,
sponsors community outreach projects throughout South America
and the Caribbean as a mean to foster friendship and understanding
between the United States and its southern neighbors.
A few days ago, the Commander's wife,
Mrs. Sandy Smith, visited the Franklin Delano Roosevelt School
for disabled children where she made a donation of books for
its library. She was accompanied by the U.S. Ambassador's
wife, Mrs. Audrey Silverstein. The school is a NGO staffed
by volunteers who look after some 90 disabled children suffering
from a variety of ailments such as polio, muscular dystrophy,
cerebral palsy, etc. The majority of these kids live in extremely
poor areas around the city, some several miles away. The school
provides free transportation to and from their homes, food,
primary education, medical assistance including physiotherapy,
hydrotherapy and psychiatry. Although the school has limited
sources of income mainly through donations, it is able to
provide an integral rehab and educational program thanks to
a staff of dedicated volunteers. Mrs. Smith's donation was
well received by the kids who immediately began rummaging
through the boxes of books picking out their favourite ones.
Mrs. Sandy Smith donating several
books to the FDR School
for disabled children. (Nov. 3)
After this port visit, John L. Hall and
Dewert sailors headed out to sea to engage in 10 days of
high-tempo training with their counterparts from Argentina,
Brazil, Uruguay and Spain participating in UNITAS. Hosted
by the Uruguayan Navy, UNITAS is designed to develop interoperability
and increase readiness of the participating forces in a
wide variety of warfare areas from air defense to antisubmarine
The U.S. forces participating are led by
Captain Dave Costa, Commander Destroyer Squadron Six and
include the frigates frigates USS Dewert (FFG 45) and USS
John L. Hall (FFG 32) and their embarked air detachments,
in addition to an Air Force C-130 detachment from the 5th
Special Operations Squadron.
UNITAS exercises are conducted under
the direction of Rear Adm. Vinson E. Smith, Commander U.S.
Naval Forces Southern Command (COMUSNAVSO), in support of
SOUTHCOM’s Theater Security Cooperation strategy in
the region. Throughout the years, UNITAS has provided an
outstanding training opportunity in a high-tech environment
while fostering multi-national coalition operations and
increase friendship and understanding among regional naval
forces. With the incorporation of an Air Force unit, UNITAS
prepares to increase its realism and relevance by integrating
a joint dimension into this traditional naval exercise.